Ever wonder how you are doing spiritually? On a certain Saturday, I got up, and changed my wife’s tires, as it was time to switch the winter tires to summer tires. That took me about an hour, after which time I washed my very dirty hands, and took a shower, to remove all of the sweat that had accumulated due to the work and the rising sun.
Well, that was settled, but my spiritual condition was another story. Spiritually, I still had not spent any quality time with the Lord, so I got back in the car, where I was able to simply talk with him, unhindered — for at that point in time, there was a lot of “busyness” going on in the house, and what better place to find privacy than in the car?
Thus, it was me and the Lord, alone in the car. I was in the passenger seat, for it provided much more space for me to spend time with the Lord that morning. We can only imagine that, fittingly, the Lord was in the “driver’s seat” — well, the driver’s seat of my life, that is!
Would I allow him full control? And how would it fare, with just me and the Lord sitting there?
I prayed a prayer.
I checked my journal.
I was at Romans 8:1 in my Bible reading.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
I read a few more verses.
I talked with the Lord.
Next, it was time for a spiritual check up. What is a spiritual check up? I wanted to check and see how I was doing spiritually. I didn’t trust myself. I knew myself too well. Something might be the matter. Something might actually be wrong.
And, let’s be frank, I knew there were areas in my life that could be improved.
A thought came to my mind, “Why don’t you check yourself against the fruit of the Holy Spirit, one by one, and then compare yourself to that?”
But whose idea was that?
Must have been the Lord’s. Remember, he was right there with me in the car. He hadn’t left me, or abandoned me, because he promised to all those who would put their faith in him for the forgiveness of their sins,
“I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.” (See Hebrews 13:5)
Next, it was time to go through the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What is that? In the Bible, it says,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, LEB)
Did you notice the last part, “Against such things there is no law”? That means you can practice them any time you want, and that will be just fine with the Lord! There is no law against practicing them; God is certainly not opposed to them!
In my journal, I wrote them down one by one, each one on a separate line, in big block letters.
Next, it was time to rate myself. How was I doing in each of these areas?
My heart was open. I really wanted to hear from the Lord. I was not there to impress anyone. That was the key to being able to hear from the Lord — not being interested in impressing man, but in impressing the Lord!
“The fear of man proves to be a snare, but whoever puts his trust in Yahweh is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
The first item on my list was LOVE. How was I doing in this area? Was I passing the grade? I put a “Y” next to LOVE, meaning, “Yes, I think I’m OK.”
Phew! Made it!
What about JOY? I put a “Y” next to JOY, because everything felt OK in that area, too. Yes, I was joyful! I was not complaining.
So far, two on two! What about the next one, PEACE?
I put a “Y” next to PEACE, because I felt peaceful, as well. I felt I had the “peace of God”. So I was not worried.
So far, I was batting “three for three.” How would I fare with PATIENCE?
I allowed God to convict me.
I felt convicted.
The Holy Spirit was telling me I was not doing so well in this area. I tried to think of what the rating might be. How could I rate this in terms of percentages?
I put “50%” next to the word, PATIENCE.
Next, KINDNESS. How was I doing in this area?
“Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)
I did not feel qualified to even write down a rating. Was I at 0%? How about 100%? I did not have a witness. Why was the Lord not giving me a witness as to the rating for this characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit? I didn’t know. I decided to put a question mark, “?”, beside the word, KINDNESS.
I went on to the next word on my list, GOODNESS. What was the rating? I gave myself a rating of “75%”.
Next, GENTLENESS. Was I doing very well in this area? In my honesty before the Lord, I gave myself a rating of “40%”.
Next, FAITHFULNESS. Was I being faithful to God? Well, I thought I was. In fact, I felt very confident that I was. I did not see any problem whatsoever (despite the previous ratings, which showed that some work was needed). Well, apart from those negative ratings, there was simply no conviction in this area. I was indeed trying to be faithful, so I gave myself a “Y” rating, meaning, “Yes, I think I’m OK.”
I had trusted the Lord for these 8 characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There was now one to go, namely, SELF-CONTROL. How was I doing in this area? I allowed the Holy Spirit to search my heart.
Holy Spirit, would you give me a 50%? I had no witness.
What about 60%? I had no witness.
What about 70%? I had no witness.
Lord, what about 10%? Yes, I had at least 10% self-control. How about 20%? Yes, I had at least 20% self-control. How about 30%? Yes, more than 30%, but that was it. I simply did not have any witness that I could write higher than that in my journal. Maybe it was higher, but the only witness I had in my heart, was that I had greater than 30% self-control.
Not very good, to be honest with you.
I was convicted, but not condemned!
Do you remember Romans 8:1, which was the passage I started to read that morning? It says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk according to the Spirit.
God was not condemning me. He was very glad, in fact, that I was in that car, seeking him and asking him to search my heart. Yes, it very much pleased the Lord, even though I was imperfect!
Next, in my quiet time with the Lord, it was time to pray over what God had shown me.
There were 5 areas that needed attention: PATIENCE (50%), KINDNESS (?), GOODNESS (75%), GENTLENESS (40%), SELF-CONTROL (\>30%).
I wrote, and I prayed.
1. Help me to be patient.
Suddenly, tears burst forth.
2. I’m not even sure if I’m kind. Help me to be kind according to your will.
More tears suddenly burst forth.
3. I ask you to repair the 25% of me that is not good.
Yet more tears burst forth.
4. Lord, 40% of me is gentle, and 60% of me is not. Help me to be gentle, according to your will.
Yet more tears came.
5. Lord, I ask you to work on the less than 70% of me that is not self-controlled.
More tears came!
Those tears were a genuine sign of heart cleansing, for the Lord truly cleansed my heart, and wiped away the sin. Yes, the conviction was from God, and the poor rating was an indication of sin or wrongdoing, but through genuine repentance and confession of that sin, God forgave me!
Hallelujah! I was a brand new man!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
What did all this mean? Well, it meant this: I was forgiven and cleansed, as though I had never sinned. Is that fair? Not in a million years! But Jesus took my sin on that cross, and I had now confessed it. And, because of that, God treated me as though I had never sinned.
It is certainly not fair, but it is glorious being forgiven by God.
Now you might think it is better not to confess any sin, otherwise, it is an “admission of guilt” and it could get you into big trouble.
But not with the Lord. The Lord’s kingdom is an inverted kingdom. If we confess our sins, he actually forgives us, and clears the slate. It is not as though we are going to get into trouble, if we confess. After all, he knows it already.
It is just as Jesus said to the Pharisees, who said that they had perfect spiritual sight, and were righteous in every way, and therefore did not need to confess any wrongdoing.
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41)
In other words, Jesus was saying that it would be better for them to confess that they could not see clearly, and admit that they had sin, than to claim that they saw everything perfectly, and were without sin. Those Pharisees would end up in hell, because their sin would remain! In other words, they would die in an unforgiven state. That is perilous! Therefore, it is much better to confess, than to say, “We have no sin.”
My quiet time was almost over, but there was still one more thing to do. I wrote down in my journal, before leaving the car:
Lord, I bring all these things before you. This is your work in progress. Please finish the work!
Yes, we are all “works in progress” before the Lord. We are not finished yet, and the Lord desires to bring us ever closer to his side. Will you allow him to do it? I encourage you to do your own “spiritual check up” today. It takes very little time to do it, in the quietness of your own “prayer closet,” and the rewards are truly amazing. Can you imagine walking in peace, the whole day? That is exactly what I did, because of my special time with the Lord that morning.
I was free, and my heart was settled. I left my prayer closet (the car) 100% victorious. And you can, too, as you bring all these things before the Lord, daily, asking him to search you, and try you, and see if there is anything in you that might need cleansing.
It is a good thing to serve the Lord, for he is gracious, and kind, and desires to forgive. Of course, it does not mean we will be perfected in one day. We are all indeed a “work in progress,” so be prepared for regular cleansing, as you come before him daily. He desires to make you into that beautiful instrument of God’s love, by which everyone will see it, and marvel, and say, “Is this the man (or woman) who used to do such and such? My, how they have changed!”
And all glory to God for that.
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